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Alabama’s War Against Injured Workers

The Alabama Legislature is back in session, so you know what that means; time to renew Corporate America’s War Against Injured Workers. Once again, State Senator Arthur Orr has introduced a bill that would do harm to injured workers. As it stands, this year’s bill would limit the amount of workers compensation benefits those who suffer catastrophic injuries which leave the worker permanently disabled could receive. Additionally, Senator Orr’s proposed amendment would create an easier way for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to get out of their legal obligation to provide lifetime medical benefits for injured workers and would introduce new methods to pursue criminal charges against those who are falsely claiming workers’ compensation benefits (nothing about criminal or civil charges available to use against workers comp insurance carriers who wrongfully deny workers’ compensation benefits to those injured at work).

The same story is playing out in Iowa, Illinois, Florida and other States. Workers’ compensation premiums are at their lowest rate in 30 years and profits for workers compensation insurance carriers are higher than any other form of insurance other than automotive insurance. Moreover, according to a Department of Labor report, less than 40 percent of workers who are eligible for workers compensation following a job injury actually apply for it and workers who suffer job injuries end up making an estimated 15% less over the following decade. Despite these FACTS, State Legislatures are working to lower the benefits injured workers are entitled to receive, hence my statement that there is a war being waged against injured workers.

These State Legislatures have conveniently forgotten how workers’ comp laws came into being; how State Legislatures entered into what has been called a Grand Compromise in creating systems of workers compensation benefits. The compromise asked ALL parties to give and take for the betterment of all involved. With Workers Compensation laws, the injured worker would be entitled to prompt medical treatment paid for by their employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier; they were also provided compensation while they were out of work recovering from their job injury and a capped amount of compensation should they suffer a permanent physical impairment. In return, the employers were protected from being sued under general tort law- which allowed for much higher damage awards against them, and the insurance companies made more money by selling more and more policies.

In the last decade State Legislatures have been consistently chipping away at the benefits injured workers can receive, sacrificing those injured at work on the altar of MORE. Their logic is that by lessening workers compensation benefits injured workers can receive, they can lure more businesses into their State and create more jobs. This rationale is called The Race to the Bottom, and as States fight to entice more businesses to their States; the problem is it doesn’t work (the last decade’s economic growth in American has been horrible, so one would logically state this line of thinking has not worked).

The War Against Injured Workers is still being waged, and at Powell and Denny, we are fighting for injured workers.

If you were hurt at work and you have any questions about an Workers Compensation claim, don’t hesitate to call and speak with one of the experienced Alabama Work Injury Lawyers at Powell and Denny today.

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